Dec 8, 2022 - News

How Ohio could make its roads safer

An anti-texting-while-driving billboard reading "If you're texting, who's driving?"

Photo: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

State efforts to improve traffic safety have been insufficient to curb what national advocates are calling an "epidemic" of motor vehicle fatalities.

Why it matters: A total of 1,189 people have died in car crashes this year, per the Ohio State Highway Patrol ā€” more than three people on average each day.

  • The staggering total could be lowered with stricter safety laws and enforcement, researchers argue.
  • Columbus saw a spike in fatal crashes last year, including those involving pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles.

Driving the news: The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its 2023 legislative roadmap this week, endorsing 16 laws it believes states should adopt.

What they found: Ohio is middle-of-the-pack, an improvement from last year, though it still has just four of the 16 recommended laws on the books.

  • The Buckeye State was credited for being one of 19 states to permit automated speed enforcement.

Yes, but: We were dinged for not enforcing front and rear occupant seatbelt violations as a primary offense ā€” meaning law enforcement can't pull over a vehicle for that sole reason.

  • Our state also lacks helmet requirements for all motorcycle riders, robust texting restrictions and various other suggested laws related to child safety and teen driving.

What we're watching: The state legislature is considering a bipartisan bill to strengthen Ohio's distracted driving laws.

  • House Bill 283, still needing Senate approval and a governor's signature, would prohibit drivers from "using, holding or physically supporting" cell phones and other electronic devices unless in an emergency.
  • Other exceptions are given while drivers are waiting at a red light, holding a phone to their ear or using speakerphone.
  • According to the 2023 Advocates report, Ohio is one of only four states where such restrictions are not already in effect.

See where Ohio stands in the full report

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